Saturday, March 15, 2014

ESC 2014 - the Norwegian final

Just so it's said: I don't like the format this year, and I don't think they've made a great choice in hosts either. Solbakken is OK, but Skavlan is no good ... and she seems to be dragging Solbakken down to her level. Without the so-called expert panel we were forced to endure in the semis, though, this is at least somewhat better.

And I quite like the Mammon spoof. Although it's hardly necessary - that show practically spoofed itself.

But! I'm very happy with the songs we've got to choose from. There were actually no ridiculously bad entries this year. Unlike what can be said about Copenhagen. But we've done well this year. Yay us. :-)

Entry #1: Ain't No Love (In This City No More) performed by El Cuero. I really like this entry. It would be cool to send this - some real rock'n'roll. It's really catchy, I love the chorus especially. They're real pros and they perform the song very well. Their band name may be a handicap though. I think this may do very well tonight ... it may appeal to the older generation where I know a lot of people will be watching. However, on the assumption that it's mostly the younger viewers who actually vote, that may be a handicap instead.

Entry #2: Sole Survivor performed by Elisabeth Carew. A pretty song, performed by a beautiful woman in a beautiful dress. That can't be wrong. :-) She sings it well, her voice fits the song well, and she's confident on stage ... it's a strong entry and should do well. What I don't like about it is the presentation - I resent it when songs are presented in our national final with a choreography that we can't use in the international final. It's kind of cheating. What you see will not be what you get. The song itself is a contender though.

Entry #3: Taste of You performed by Knut Kippersund Nesdal. Now this guy is really talented, he's so enthusiastic on stage and it really shines through. That's one of the things that can really bring in the votes internationally. And the song is good too, catchy, with a strong melodic line and a good chorus. I really like that he's alone on stage, that's a plus in my book. His voice is really good, and has character, I like him a lot as a singer. I would be happy to see this win although I don't think it will.

Entry #4: Needs performed by Dina Misund. A pretty ballad, but the blandest song in the lineup so far. Kind of ... fine while you're listening to it, but three minutes after it's over you can't hum it to save your life. I was actually surprised when this got through from the first semi, I didn't expect it to. I have nothing against it, but it also does nothing for me. Can't imagine this as our winner.

Entry #5: Heal performed by Mo. This is not the song I want to win, but it's the one I'm scared can really menace my preferred winner. Norwegians are stupid enough to actually vote this all the way to the top ... I don't know what's up with that, I really don't. We should pick the song that has the best chance to win, right? And this isn't it. It's not a bad song, not at all ... it's actually a good pop song. But it's a generic pop song. It's just that. And the singer's not that good, he's OK, but not what you'd call good. Plus the presentation has the same problem as Sole Survivor ... although in this case the choreography could easily be scaled down to fit the requirements. But I still resent it. There was a big cheer in the audience for this entry. I hope the TV audience is a little more clever. But past evidence indicates otherwise, alas. Fingers crossed that this won't win.

Entry #6: High Hopes performed by Linnea Dale. Oooh ... !! Now this is one of the songs I definitely want to see win. One of my top two favorites this year. I dig this song. It's almost a little magical moment to me when I hear this. The very first time I heard it, after just one minute I was totally in love with it. I mean, just listen to this. Her gorgeous voice, her performance, that melody, the lyrics ... this song is just the total package. Europe would so totally vote for this. And I will too.

Entry #7: Hit Me Up performed by Charlie. OK, not that there's any chance whatsoever of this winning, but if it did, I would seriously lose faith in humanity. Not that it's a bad song, it's fun to listen too, and while the singer is quite silly she is also very young and this is what you expect from this kind of bubblegum pop thing. But how anyone could hear this song immediately after High Hopes and then proceed to vote for the bubblegum ... that defies my powers of credulity. Let's all just forget about this.

Entry #8: Silent Storm performed by Carl Espen. OMG here it comes ... !!! This is my absolute #1 favorite this year. We MUST send this song. This is the perfect choice. This burly tattooed guy in a denim shirt and a beard comes out on stage and sings this sensitive ballad, and he has this AMAZING voice that just rips your heart out of your chest and leaves it bleeding on the floor ... !!! And his performance is soo emotional and genuine. They will love that down east.

We must send this song. And we will. I know something you don't.

Entry #9: Sing perfomed by Oda & Wulff. I was really happy to see this come through from the final. It's the funnest entry this year. I love their voices. They really have character. The song is so entertaining too. A very fun entry, really. Of course it can't win. But it's fun to see something like this in the lineup. I has amusement. Kudos to them.

OK, that's the whole thing. Now some of the songs will get through to a second round. My nerves ... !! My two favorites will get through, but so will their biggest threat. Augh, my nerves ... !!

I'm not a fan of this format, but I really like these little nostalgic collages in the intervals. More of those please. Although they are rather squirm-inducing.

So, now there's a break for some other program, and when we start up again in what, 40 minutes? four songs will be through to the final round. These will be Silent Storm, Heal, High Hopes and Taste of You, is my so-called guess. Like I said, I know something you don't.

Sole Survivor is totally bombing. I am slightly shocked by how badly it's doing. Like, Sing is totally crushing it. Wow.

Aaand ... we're back. My nerves have rather settled for the moment, since I know ... well, what I know. And the details have reassured me. But still, it's not certain yet. I'm still nervous, anyway. :-)

A quick runthrough of the songs, since we may have forgotten them in the 40 minutes that have passed.

Now they're going to go over the four songs. In random order, they say, but the order is actually this:
Silent Storm
High Hopes
Taste of You

Silent Storm ended ahead of the others by ... quite a bit. Then the other three are in a relatively even group. I'm pretty confident right now. Just hoping the foolish teenagers don't rally around Heal at the last moment. Fingers crossed ... !!!

Taste of You performed again. Still good. But, well, yeah. This is not our man.

Silent Storm is next. Called second but actually definitely in first place at this point. However, when it was competing against eight other songs, some of them not real contenders, then that was one situation. Now that it'll be up against only three entries, and they are all quite strong, well, that's something else again. I'm nervous ... !! If only your average Norwegian was a little brainier I'd be less so. But, augh. Fingers crossed again.

His performance ... !!! His voice!! We seriously HAVE GOT TO SEND THIS, people!!!

I'm seriously feeling shivers down my spine right now. And this guy has never performed in public before entering this contest ... !!! He will have all of Europe transfixed on May 10th. PLEASE vote for this entry!!!

It's a little mean of them to take such endlessly long artistic pauses between "the next finalist is" and the performer's name. Seriously. I say I have nerves, but these people ... !!

Heal is next. Actually in second place. Ho-hum ...

Stella Mwangi's hair ... !!! :-o

I actually kind of like Heal better each time I hear it. It's growing on me. It's not at all a bad song, in fact, it's pretty good for what it is. The singer would be a major handicap though. You all know what I mean. I personally don't have anything against us shooting ourselves in the foot like that, on principle - I dug it when we sent Stella, because that song was so cool and it was fantastic to be the first nation performing in Swahili, and in any case we didn't really have much to choose from that time - but in practice ... I do have something against it when we have something SO MUCH BETTER that we can send and have the chance to do really really well. A fantastic singer against a just OK one, and a great song against a good one. And the performances, well ...

To do really well in the ESC an entry has to appeal across the board. Both east and west have to like it. And I promise you, down east they are going to love Carl Espen's sincere and emotional performance. A slightly androgynous Somalian teenager*? Doesn't stand a snowball's chance in hell. That's the reality.

*He may not be a teenager anymore, I'm not sure exactly how old he is. But he looks like a kid.

But I wouldn't care about any of that, I would happily see us bomb, if this was the best song. If the songs were switched between these two singers, then hell yes, send the Somalian. But they're not. Silent Storm is a much better song and for several reasons a much stronger entry. It really is the only choice.

Oh ... !! They're keeping their votes from the first round! YES!!! Then Silent Storm already has a significant head start. OMG nerves ... !!

A couple of old contestants to keep us entertained while we wait. And as they sing Silent Storm is pulling ahead. Way ahead. And High Hopes moving up to second place. Faith in humanity restored ... !!

The hosts are so unprofessional though, it's embarrassing ... !! Sheesh!

OK, Stella is so pretty even with that hair. Her smile ... !! She's going to read the east country votes. This is the most densely populated area of the country, so this is where the most votes will have come in. Mine among them. I've voted like 15 times for Silent Storm. :-) The results are very even between Silent Storm and Heal. But it'll only be here that Heal ends up in first place, I guarantee it.

Jørn Hoel with the votes from the north. Silent Storm pulls ahead. Yep yep.

Margaret Berger with the votes from ... what, the midlands? :-) Silent Storm wins again. It's still even, but that won't last.

Helene Bøksle from the south country. Wow, it's even!! But Silent Storm still ahead.

Christine Gulbrandsen representing the west country. Now they must have liked Silent Storm. Melancholy and all that. Plus Carl Espen is from Bergen. And OMG YES! They've gone crazy for it! And Silent Storm is our entry. YAY YAY YAY!!


Carl Espen has a happy too. Aw. :-)

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